I frequently read and hear people connected with Emergent (a sub-segment of the emerging church) protest the characterizatrion that they are a community of political leftists. I have seen McLaren, Samson and others chalk this up to people who simply aren't willing to embrace their new broader way forward and can see things only through the old lens of traditional left and right politics
Today I came across this YouTube clip (HT: Neil Craigan). It is Brian McLaren speaking at news conference called "Religious Progressives Left Behind." Please don't read past that to quickly and let me spell that out for you: p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e-s. And surely you did not miss the "double entendre" with the word "l-e-f-t."
In the clip below McLaren says:
"But I am an example of a growing shift from the monopoly of the Religious Right on a conservative ethos and in fact I think I’m an example that that monologue and domination by the Religious Right is becoming a fact of history rather than contemporary news. There’s a broader conversation even among Evangelicals and this new conversation can’t be fit into the old cold war categories of Right versus Left, Republican versus Democrat, liberal versus conservative."
Please get this. McLaren says he is part of a "...new conversation [that] can’t be fit into the old cold war categories of Right versus Left, Republican versus Democrat, liberal versus conservative" at a news conference in support of Religious Progressives Left Behind! McLaren also charactereizes conservatives and others who may disagree with progressive solutions to problems as only being concerned about a narrow range of issues becasue they do not subscribe to his progressive agenda.
They say a picture says a thousand words. When you look at this clip of McLaren speaking at the conference notice the distinguished gentlemen to the right of the screen. That is Bob Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. I realize some of you from evangelical denominations may not be fully aware of who the NCC is. It is a coaliton of the tradtional mainline denominations that over the past forty years or so has been the most polarizing left-wing institution of mainline Christendom. It has supported communist candidates at home and backed communist regimes abroad. It championed the rise of the likes of Bobby Mugabe to power in Zimbabwe. It has rabidly and unflinchingly supported unrestricted abortion in any term for any reason, including partial birth abortion. The organization is so far left that Bill Clinton felt it necessary to keep his distance as most mainstream Democrats tend to do. The NCC is the most rivaled and despised religious organization among mainline conservatives and a symbolic icon of all that must be preserved by the mainline left.
So here is McLaren at a conference about "Religious Progressives Left Behind" with the leader of the organization that is the iconic symbol of relgious left-wing politics telling us that he represents a "broadening" discussion that is neither "liberal or conservative." Give me a break!
McLaren is a political progressive/lefty. Most of the high profile folks associated with Emergent give every evidence to me of being progressives/lefties. (Again, I distinguish Emergent from the broader conversation called emerging church.) I wish they would either own this reality and stop all the coy misdirections about their politics or drop the overt advocacy of leftist political solutions to problems and focus on generating a conversation. I will know we have a truly emerging leader when he or she gives a press conference and neither Jim Edgar nor Jim Dobson are thrilled to be standing behind him or her.